We’ve made it – our amazing trip is over! After 6 months having an absolutely awesome time travelling around Australia we are back home. Wow, back to ‘normal’ life! Well kinda of, we don’t actually have our own home to go back to yet… but we’re back in Brissy!
Happy to be on holidays, and now happy to be home!
the motorhome looks a little more ‘used’ now!
As expected we took 3 days to travel from Canberra, arriving in Brisbane Tuesday afternoon, 23/12/2014. That gives us one day to relax and catch up with some family (and do some washing…) before our Christmas festivities start on Christmas eve; Christmas dinner with my Mums side of the family. Continue reading
Having conquered Mt Kosciuszko, and with less than a week remaining in our AroundAus trip, we left Thredbo resort in the NSW ski fields and headed off to our capital city – the land of politicians and bureaucracy. Speaking of politicians, on the other side of Canberra the Federal Hwy (heading north) descends steeply revealing a huge flat plain straight ahead. The hwy ends up skirting around the edge, but clearly visible in the mountains on the other side is another large wind turbine farm. Looks good to me, but this must be the one that federal treasurer Joe Hockey calls an eyesore… What a turkey!
But this visit to Canberra wasn’t all about politicians and turkeys. One of the main reasons for visiting was to see my uncle and aunty; Richard & Lyndal, and their two kids Yasemin and Jonny. As unlikely as it seems, it turned out that Lyndal was visiting Brisbane for the few days we were in town, but we did get to catch up for a couple hours before she boarded the plane. We spent more time with Richard and Yasemin, and the boys had a great time with Jonny. Mostly based around their mutual interests in soccer – out in the yard and on the x-box. Now Daniel is researching x-boxes so he can play FIFA 15 more….
In our few days in Canberra we also fitted in a number of sight seeing activities – Questacon, Royal Australian Mint, National Arboretum Canberra, Parliament House and the War Memorial.
Believe it or not, I think I actually found Parliament House the most interesting of all those! We arrived just in time for the 2pm tour, after spending the earlier part of the day at Questacon. The tour guide went through and explained the design and construction of the building, which seems well designed and nicely finished. We viewed the Great Hall, the House of Representatives chamber, the Senate chamber and more. He explained some of what happens and why. It would be good to see a lot of our Parliamentary processes changed – a lot of the ridiculous procedural technicalities and stuff based on old laws and traditions for starters. Whilst we are dreaming about improvements, we could also make the whole thing a bit less oppositional and put a more constructive tilt to our parliamentary discussions/arrangements/operations, and somehow require more of a long term focus in all decision making. But all in all, despite its many shortcomings, we’ve still got one of the best systems in the world.
Parliament House facade
We made it – to the top of Australia! Here we are on Mt Kosciuszko’s peak, physically higher (more elevated?) than anybody else on Australian soil.
On top of Australia! (Mt Kosciuszko peak)
It was a tough, steep and dangerous climb up the side of this incredible mountain. OK OK, I’m exaggerating a little – it was actually an easy stroll up a wide boardwalk and a well formed path…. that doesn’t sound as impressive though! Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, as we had to get there first.
Tuesday morning we left our camp slightly north of Bombala, and headed west along the Snowy River Way. Continue reading
North of the Vic/NSW border, Eden is the first town found on the coastline. It’s a pretty place, living up to comments we’d heard about it. We had a nice relaxing Sunday in Eden; lunch at the lookout and the arvo at the surf beach. We didn’t bother with the Eden Whale Museum, having been to the Historic Whaling Station in Albany WA which was quite in-depth and thorough.
The surf itself wasn’t that good, but we took the boards in anyway as the sun was shining and the water temp seemed warmer than in Vic. We had a lovely relaxing time. Nicole even joined in some interval sprints on the soft sand! (yes, a bit of exercise is relaxing 😉 )
the lookout, facing south.
nearby point, looking north past Yallumgo Cove to the surf beach in the distance
Following our brief excursion west of Bairnsdale to Tarra-Bulga NP, Wednesday morning we headed east towards Lakes Entrance. On the way we stopped by the pretty little upmarket tourist town of Metung. The clouds refused get out of the suns way, but we got some photos and had a look in a nice photo gallery.
one of the Metungs main wharf areas
looking back at Metungs main shopping precinct (behind the yachts)
Our travels over the Victorian Alps brought us to Bairnsdale, in the middle of the Gippsland region (well, the western edge of eastern Gippsland….). The question now was, where to go next? We’d always planned to go east along and up the coastline, but did we have time for some backtracking westwards into the central/southern (and perhaps even western) Gippsland regions first?
Yes, we’ve noticed that time is getting away on us. I’m sure family is going to be thrilled to hear that we’re planning to be back in Brisbane for Christmas (what would Christmas be like without us??)! That’s in about two weeks time (less as I actually write/post this)!! The boys really want to be there (you know, play with cousins, get presents and the like….), and it isn’t that often that families get together like they do at Christmas so it is a great way for us all to catch up.
Despite the limited time remaining in this travelling holiday, we decided to do a quick detour into the central/southern Gippsland region. We spent Tues night at one of the Golden Beach campgrounds that form part of the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. Not sure how Golden Beach got its name, but I suspect it is a grandiose interpretation of the yellow sanded beach! Unfortunately the surf was no good, and a pretty heavy invasion of seaweed would have discouraged any water entry regardless. Still, a nice spot to spend the night.
It was tempting to detour just a little further west, and visit Wilsons Promontory NP, and perhaps even Phillip Island. However Nicole and I have visited both places previously, and the now looming deadline of being back for Christmas caused us to decided against doing so.
We did however detour slightly further, to visit Tarra-Bulga National park which we’d been told is a must see. The whole Gippsland area is pretty & green, so it was no surprise to find that we were entering a lovely moist green rainforest type environment. We came in through the south, and the lower reaches of Tarra Valley road heading in were beautiful. The narrow road and surrounding hillsides were lined with tree ferns, sometimes with only just enough room for the motorhome to drive between the fern fronds. Please excuse the quality of these pics; taken thru the windscreen from a moving vehicle….
Ferns lining Tarra Valley Road
It was a beautiful yet familiar view, heading east from Wangaratta towards the Victorian Alps. Though we’ve done this drive many times before, it is always beautiful and something to look forward to. Fresh white snow covered peaks in the winter, beautiful orange coloured landscapes in the autumn, fresh soft green leaves in the spring and majestic mountains in the summer!
Our first destination was Beechworth, nestled on the edge of the range. It is a pretty little historic town. There are two main attractions in Beechworth that readers may have heard of – the Beechworth Bakery is very well known, and Beechworth Honey is a big brand that can be bought in many supermarkets. There is also a lolly shop with all sorts of lollies lining the walls; from floor to ceiling!
Beechworth Honey have a shop in town where you can sample and buy their many different flavours/sources of honey. They also screen a series of educational videos where you learn about honey production. I didn’t realise how active beekeepers must be in the overall honey production process. It isn’t a matter of just setting up some hives and leaving them there for the spring/summer. The hives are regularly moved around to where the flowers are (moving must be done during the night), and are constantly monitored and tapped for honey when ready. Almond trees are the first to flower after winter, but the range of plant types they move the hives to is huge – all sorts of native and non-native plants, legumes and trees.
Honey based drinks
the many different honey flavours/sources
In the image above, the jars of honey are grouped according to the type of honey (source of the honey). There are over 20 different flavours/sources, and they each have there own specific colour, flavour etc. They have just opened up a second building in town, the Beechworth Honey Discovery centre. Here you can also learn about honey and honey production, but the main feature is the cafe with a ‘Bee Menu’ of food specifically selected to showcase honey.
Beechworth Bakery is one of the best and well known bakeries in Australia. When we’ve been travelling around different parts of Aus, the many bakeries we’ve visited are invariably compared to Beechworths! Continue reading
Having lived in Melbourne for a couple of years, even if over a decade ago, we didn’t feel the need to spend time exploring the city again. It was time to take a break from the travelling tourist type approach and do something a little different. Instead of exploring the sights, sounds, activities and tastes of Melbourne and North East Victoria, the next few days were to be primarily focused around reminiscing the past and catching up with friends whom we haven’t seen for many years. Of course we did end up doing some tourist type stuff too…
Our multi day trip down the Great Ocean Road finished up at Anglesea, from where we did an unbroken drive right across to the eastern side of Melbourne, to our previous home town area of Berwick. We showed the boys both houses that we (Mum and Dad and Jonathan) had lived in. Albrecht Ave looks quite different now – it was a new estate (and new house) when we moved there, but now feels like an established area with largish trees and the like! Berwick used to be on the outer edge of Melbourne, and though it still has a bit of a country feel to it in places, there are certainly more housing estates and shopping centres than there used to be.
Beaconsfield is a touch further out than Berwick, and still has that rural feel too it. There we caught up with friends Ray, Julianne, Nathan and Alyssa. It was lovely to spend the evening with them, and for the boys to get to know each other again. Jonathan and Nathan were born in the same hospital, just 3 days apart, though I suspect they don’t remember that original friendship!
Thursday we headed north to the Wangaratta area, but rather than take the freeways, we took the much slower but more scenic route up through Emerald, Monbulk, Lilydale, Yarra Glen, Yea and Benalla. We were reminded how beautiful it is through there, along the edge of the Dandenong Ranges.
From around the Emerald area. Ignore blurriness due to moving vehicle…
Having detoured over to Ballarat to visit Sovereign Hill, we zig-zagged back to Warrnambool near the western end of the Great Ocean Road (which isn’t that far from the bottom end of the Grampains!). It was a nice drive through a mostly green countryside, with an overnight stay at the beautiful Lake Elingamite campground. Here is the lake in the morning, from up high on the hill.
At Warrnambool I picked up my new drivers license (as was sent off for on the Yorke Peninusula), and not a day too soon – the same day my previous one expired! We took the opportunity of being in a major town, to do some shopping, laundry and the like, before heading east to the Great Ocean Road (Sat 29/11/2014).
The interesting limestone coastal cliff features of the GOR (Great Ocean Road) are at the western end of this 243km long road. These features include well known tourist attractions such as The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, and more. But first here are some of the less well known features, coming up to the town of Port Campbell – the first major town on the GOR, and our first overnight stopping point.
The Bay of Islands
Nicole and I were a little unsure about visiting Sovereign Hill, as it was a bit out of our way, not particularly cheap, and we’d already visited a number of gold and mining related places. However we are very pleased we did end up making the trip – it was definitely worth it. We all really enjoyed both Sovereign Hill, and the ‘Blood On The Southern Cross’ sound and light spectacular that night. We had to come back for a second day to see things we didn’t get to in the first!
For those who aren’t familiar with it, Sovereign Hill is a not-for-profit tourist attraction located in Ballarat, which was the location of one of the biggest gold rushes in the world (the biggest nuggets ever found came from here). Sovereign Hill is a very well done replication of Ballarat from the 1850’s. I’m not talking a tiny model here, I’m meaning full streets re-created in the same style and construction techniques that were used back then. There are hotels, a post office, drapery, blacksmith, candle factory, metal spinning shops, horse carriage manufacturing, candy manufacture, even a 9 pin bowling alley (wooden balls and pins!) and a whole lot more. Then there is the diggings area, with the diggers tents, various equipment, and of course the gold panning creek.
small section of the main street of Sovereign Hill
Not only are the buildings constructed to the period, but the internal furnishes, decorations and functional equipment are too. The staff, who are dressed in clothes from that period, actually do many tasks as they would have back then. These are functional shops – the blacksmithing shop actually has a blacksmith in it making things out of metal, using a fire and great big old manually operated leather air bellows!!! Daniel really liked the blacksmith shop. In another building/factory they actually manufacture horse carriages using the old equipment – we did a tour viewing the manufacture of a wooden wheel (wheelwrighting). There are a couple of huge boilers – actual ones from the era, running on timber, that produce steam to power much of the mills, and equipment used on site.
Blacksmith. No, it’s not my cousin Pierce…